New Junior Cycle Science Resources

The revised Junior Cycle Science Specification has a new section: Earth and Space. The eight learning outcomes in this section cover a wide range of earth and space science topics.

Lesson activities, interactives and other student supports are listed below by learning outcome.

Earth and space

General sites for students:

For Teachers:

  • ESA Teacher notes, 6 booklets (available as pdfs or as webpages) on various astronomy /cosmology topics.
  • LCOGT (Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network) Education
  • Space Book and Astronomy Education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has an extensive selection of online simulations, interactives and question banks for undergraduate astronomy. This is superb background for teachers and some of the topics can be adapted for use with students.

ELEMENT: Building Blocks

Students should be able to:

1. Describe the relationships between various celestial objects including moons, asteroids, comets, planets, stars, solar systems, galaxies and space

  • Where does Space begin? article
  • Cosmic Quest Education Guide : Education Guide with background reading and many student activities for “Cosmic Questions: Our Place in Space and Time” a travelling exhibition. It includes:  How Big? How Far? How Old?
  • Powers of Ten: Youtube link to the classic film
  • Pocket Solar System: student activity to model planet orbits on a sheet of till roll.
  • Observing Jupiter : Student activity that simulates the observations of Galileo of the moons of Jupiter. Excellent teacher notes.
  • Voyage: A Journey through our Solar System Lesson 8: Comets, Bringers of Life?  Includes an introduction about the chemical elements found in the Universe, Activity is based on students making a model comet from dry ice.
  • ESO (European Southern Observatory) produces ESOCastLight, billed as “Extreme Science with extreme Telescopes and bite-size astronomy,” videos can be found on their YouTube channel.

2. Explore a scientific model to illustrate the origin of the universe

  • Introductory activity: Modelling the Expanding Universe, also in the CosmicQuestEdGuide and here.
  • Cosmic Times:  Cosmic Times is a series of curriculum support materials that trace the history of our understanding of the universe during the past 100 years, from Einstein’s formulation of gravity to the discovery of dark energy. It consists of 6 posters, each resembling the front page of a newspaper from a particular time in this history, with articles describing the discoveries. The language of the articles mimics that of a newspaper from its respective era – different reading ages / teacher guides / extension materials. Lesson Plans extend students understanding though a series of practical activities.
  • Expanding Universe rubber band and balloon resources. Cosmic Times also has a raisin bread model.
  • Big Bang Misconceptions article.   History of Cosmology article.

3. Interpret data to compare the Earth with other planets and moons in the solar system, with respect to properties including mass, gravity, size, and composition.

ELEMENT: Systems and interactions

Students should be able to:

4. Develop and use a model of Earth-Sun-Moon system to describe predictable phenomena observable on Earth, including seasons, lunar phases, and eclipses of the Sun and the Moon

  • Lunar Phases: Cosmic Times lesson plan from 1919  emphasis is on modelling and explaining models.
  • Physical Outdoor Activity.
  • Interactives of the lunar cycle.

5. Describe the cycling of matter, including that of carbon and water, associating it with biological and atmospheric phenomena.


Students should be able to:

6. Research different energy sources; formulate and communicate an informed view of ways that current and future energy needs on Earth can be met.

  • Energy Budget: The Universe in the Classroom Summer 2013, overview of many teaching resources and websites.

ELEMENT: Sustainability

Students should be able to:

7. illustrate how earth processes and human factors influence Earth’s climate, evaluate effects of climate change and initiatives that attempt to address those effects

  • Climate Change online lessons, superb background reading for teachers, lessons can be adapted. Originally designed for “(a) 16-19 year old students, (b) teachers at the secondary and first year tertiary levels, and (c) chemistry professionals. The materials will also be accessible to the general public”

8. Examine some of the current hazards and benefits of space exploration and discuss the future role and implications of space exploration in society.

  • NASA’s Human Research Program article.
  • Planetary Society has links to all space missions to other planets, sorted by planet.